Ciudad Bolívar, 20th October 2014, (Venezuelanalysis.com) – On Saturday thousands of Venezuelan youth and government supporters participated in a march against terrorism and for peace. The youth march was organized in response to the assassination of 27-year old lawmaker and Chavista leader Robert Serra, who was murdered along with his partner Maria Herrera in their home earlier this month.
Young people and government supporters filled the streets of Caracas to take their demand – that lawmakers officially declare the murder of Serra as an act of terrorism – to the National Assembly.
Dressed in chavista red, and carrying signs that stated “Venezuela against terrorism” and “Venezuela against fascist paramilitarism,” thousands of youth from throughout the country and the capital region joined in the day of action to remember the life of Robert Serra and to take a stand against his brutal murder. Government officials have claimed the assassination was linked to a Colombian paramilitary operation that has potential ties to elements of the Venezuelan opposition.
“I’m here because I’m against the Venezuelan right’s fascist activities,” said Rosario Carabello, a government supporter who attended the march. Many such young people are referred to as “generation Chávez” since most teenagers in Venezuela have grown up in the Bolivarian Revolution and the younger generation has little memory of Venezuela prior to former president Hugo Chavez’s election in 1998.
The murder of Serra and his partner Herrera have sent shock waves throughout Venezuela and especially through the chavista ranks, who have claimed that his assassination is a part of a broader plot to attack chavista leadership and destabilize the country. According to the government, all eight men who were involved in Serra’s murder have been identified and two men, including Serra’s former bodyguard, Eduwin Camacho Torres, are in custody and have confessed to their participation in the murder of the young legislator.
Despite the alleged confessions and claims by authorities that a paramilitary cell under the leadership of a man nicknamed “Colombia” carefully plotted the murders of Serra and Herrera, the right-wing opposition has continued to claim that Serra’s murder is an example of street violence and random crime in Caracas.
A week after Serra’s death, Jesús “Chúo” Torrealba, the executive secretary of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), asked “all Venezuelans to take part in a national crusade against violence”; even calling on the chavista base to participate in a MUD-sponsored march.
According to Reuters, the opposition march, which also took place on Saturday, only pulled in a few hundred people and was dwarfed by the pro-government rally. The opposition marchers protested against high crime rates, in an attempt to link Serra’s death to common street crime. They also protested alleged violations of human rights and economic problems, like food shortages, in the country.
The opposition march was the first call to street protests by the MUD since the five months of violent protests which left 43 people dead earlier this year. The extremely low turnout has been noted by both national and international press.
The pro-government demonstration marched through a torrential downpour that soaked those attending including President Nicholas Maduro who concluded his speech in a drenched red, blue and yellow track suit, the colors of the Venezuelan flag. From the stage, Maduro rhetorically asked the crowd why Serra had been murdered, answering, “To silence us! The right-wing fascists are scared of young rebels, young revolutionaries”.
The investigation into Serra’s murder continues and Venezuelan officials have called on the assistance of Interpol in detaining the remaining suspects, some of whom are assumed to be outside of Venezuela’s national boundaries.